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History in the Week of May 20

Madera County Historical Society One hundred years ago, these woman performed an activity that had formerly been open only to men. They were the first women to serve on a jury in Madera County. It took them just 30 minutes to find Charles Halstead guilty of grand theft.


50 Years Ago

Week of May 20, 1968

MORGAN JOHNSON NEW SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER — Morgan Johnson, Ripperdan district farmer and native Maderan, was appointed Tuesday night to the Madera Unified School District board of education. The appointment is to fill the vacancy created by the sudden death of Buck Melikian. He is a Madera High School and Stanford University graduate, serves as a director of the Federal Land Bank and is a member of the Madera County Housing Authority. Johnson is 37, married and the father of two pre-school age children. The other six members of the board selected Johnson during a regular meeting last night.

ADULT HIGH SCHOOL HAS FIRST GRADUATION — The first graduation from Madera Adult High School will take place next Wednesday night at 8 p.m. in the girls’ gymnasium. Seventeen adults, 13 of them housewives, teacher aides, waitresses, and typists will be in the graduation class. The ages of the graduates range from 20 to 44, with all but two of them married. Collectively they have 38 children, with one having a family of seven youngsters. Two are grandmothers. Dean Clark, a farmer who attended classes two nights per week, will be the student speaker. Bill Haugen is adult education director for the high school.

OOPS! CITY SAYS IDEA WAS WRONG — Left turns into the alleys on East Yosemite Avenue will be legal again. City Administrator Phillip Brown reported that all double yellow lines recently painted on the street to stop left turns into the alleys have been erased by the State Division of Highways. The street had been open for left turns into the alleys until two months ago when the city requested the state to block such turns to prevent congestion. When downtown merchants requested the lanes be open again to left turns into the alleys, the city told the State it had changed its mind and requested the double yellow lines be removed.

MADERA’S PEGGY GRAHAM WINS BEAUTY PAGEANT — Peggy Graham of Madera, a brown-eyed beauty with a contagious smile, last night was named Miss Madera County of 1968 at the Chowchilla Junior Fair. Miss Graham, a senior at Madera High School, is the third successive winner from the county seat. She will represent the county in the Maid of California Pageant at the State Fair in Sacramento, and next month will compete in the Miss California portion of the Miss Universe contest in Los Angeles. She was sponsored by the Chowchilla Lions Club. Miss Graham was crowned by the retiring Miss Madera County, Lynea Minneti of Madera.

ONE OF OLDEST MONO INDIANS DIES IN FIRE — A woman believed to be one of the oldest members of the Mono Indian tribe died late Saturday when a fire swept through her three-room home in North Fork. Mrs. Julie Charley, a great-great grandmother, was believed to have been about 102 years old. A granddaughter and owner of the property where the cabin was located, Mrs. Louis Davis, told sheriff’s deputies she tried to rescue the aged woman but found the cabin doors locked. She said by the time she managed to break down a door, it was too late to save Mrs. Charley. She is survived by her husband, Bill, of Dunlap, a son, Dean, of Stockton, four grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and nine great-great-grandchildren. 100 Years Ago

Week of May 20, 1918

WOMAN SENT TO SAN QUENTIN FOR CHECK SWINDLES — Denied probation, Mrs. Florence Jackson, giving her profession as an actress, was sentenced today to an indeterminate period in San Quentin Penitentiary for bad check operations. It has been learned Mrs. Jackson operated under seven names, using the Red Cross as a means to enable her to obtain money. Her method was to ascertain names of leading Red Cross workers, enter a shop and refer to them in making purchases, which were ordered sent to Red Cross headquarters. She paid with checks and retained the change.

BAD LUCK ON SCHMITZ RANCH; WHIRLWIND LIFTS BARN — Frank Fisher, a local carpenter, is building a big barn at the J. Walter Schmitz ranch west of town. The barn is 160 feet long, 29 feet high and 36 feet wide. Last night a whirlwind at the ranch blew the barn over. The workmen started on the reconstruction of the building this morning, and while doing so, another part of the barn fell, hitting W.C. Huntoon and injuring his back. He was brought to town and was attended to by Dr. D.H. Ransom. After the accident, the work of reconstruction was again taken up and with no further bad luck the barn will be completed in a few days.

MURDER FEARED IN THE MOUNTAINS — The discovery of a practically new Overland automobile in the mountains about seven miles this side of the Mariposa County line may be the result of a murder. City Marshal Barnett and Deputy Marshal Rae made a trip to the spot after the car had been reported to them. The car had been driven back in the brush to a little cabin. Inside the cabin everything was splattered with blood. There was blood on the walls and on the floor. There was evidence of a terrible fight of some sort. Blood was also found outside on the ground. There was even blood in some of the tree leaves. The officers will return to the site tomorrow with investigators from San Francisco.

FARM LABORERS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SHORTAGE OF HELP; DEMAND $10 PER DAY — Taking advantage of the scarcity of help brought on by the military draft, sack bucks and sack sewers are demanding $10 per day for their services in the harvest fields. Farmers are up in arms over the demand and declare that it is not only unreasonable and unfair but is entirely unpatriotic. The situation is more critical here owing to the fact that the government has just made another call for men, and every farmer who had been here under a temporary exemption will have to leave before the harvest is hardly started. A mass meeting has been called for next Saturday at the Superior Court Room.

LADY JURY TRIES CASE FOR COUNTY — Madera County has passed through a novel experience, and a body of 12 women has also passed through a novel experience. Today witnessed the first criminal case ever conducted in the Superior court here in which the jury was made up entirely of women. Chas. Halstead, charged with the theft of a quantity of quicksilver, was tried. He was given as fair a trial as any man ever charged with a crime, and no jury ever listened more attentively to the evidence. Neither Attorney Stanley Murray for the people or Attorney Barcroft for the defense desired to challenge any of the ladies of the jury. It took the jury 30 minutes to find the defendant guilty.

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